Together We Can Beat This!
We are once again on the verge of being overwhelmed by the spike in COVID-19 numbers albeit this time infections have more or less entered a community spread phase. Due to the tardiness of a few, the whole country will have to suffer an onslaught of the virus that cannot easily be corralled unless we strictly adhere to the recommended health guidelines.
COVID-19 is still called the ‘novel’ coronavirus for a reason; there are many questions that are still not answered.
Researchers around the world are working round the clock to find a vaccine to this relentless plague and it is our duty to protect ourselves till the cure is found.
The Brandix cluster was a major stumbling block to Sri Lanka’s stellar record in COVID-19 control and has undoubtedly erased the hard-fought progress everybody has achieved to keep the country corona-free. However, as the cluster has gone on to spread far and wide, it is no use crying over spilt milk but instead focus on reminding the public again on the dangers of the pandemic as many among us have shown tardiness.
Accordingly, the administration got serious about the issue and decided to impose heavy penalties on those violating regulations. Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi warned that all those violating health safety regulations would be arrested and remanded for a period of six months. She also warned that the judiciary would be able to come down hard on all those who violate the health guidelines on mask wearing and maintaining one-metre distance once the Health Guidelines are gazetted.
As timely as this move is right now there is no question about the public’s thoughts about the growing ‘super cluster’ being entirely the fault of those in charge of enforcing the health guidelines. As much as the public have grown lethargic with observing the regulations, the Brandix incident is not the fault of a people not wearing masks or washing hands. Murmurs are also abound about the apparent difference shown to Sri Lankans flying into the country having to lounge in expensive quarantine centres when foreign delegates can just show up in their ‘travel bubbles’.
Furthermore, the Minister said the Government was in the process of taking several decisions regarding safeguarding the health of the population. Accordingly, legal action will be taken, by the Director General Health Services, against all those who violate the gazetted health regulations in areas which have been named as areas where there is a COVID-19 spread, she warned. Persons violating the regulations in such areas would be arrested and remanded for a period of six months. The gazetted regulations would permit the Court to levy a fine of not less than Rs10,000 from violators or remand them. The judiciary would be able to give them both punishments too.
The Minister also said that even those who fail to check the temperature of those entering various premises would be held responsible under the gazetted regulations. Although we can all agree that containing the outbreak in the ‘red-zones’ is top priority, it is however a bit too harsh to bring down the hammer on a population reeling from economic downturn and other woes, due to the negligence of a few. In a situation such as this, maximum amount of resources should be channelled to identify hotspots in order to control the virus. Door-to-door facilities should be resumed with the uttermost precaution, just like in the lockdown months, so that those in the quarantine zones are not left helpless. An even better option is to barricade the divisions under lockdown and recommence a certain level of functionality (with the highest adherence to health regulations) to at least keep the economy afloat.